By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Just months after opening for Interpol during its fall 2007 tour, Liars is back on the road, despite singer/guitarist Angus Andrew's painful back injury, which has the frontman mostly seated during recent shows. (Andrew says he was just "tidying up" and reaching for a cushion when his back gave out.)
Thankfully, in the heal-time meantime, Andrew's got help. Young People guitarist Jarrett Silberman—who plays with Liars' Aaron Hemphill in Skull Skull—is taking over some of Andrew's guitar work and joining Liars onstage for this tour.
That kind of support's allowing Andrew to focus on other things. Four days after the Giants' Super Bowl win—a game the former New York resident loved, for obvious reasons—the main thing Andrew says he wants to discuss is football. After confirming my Cowboys fandom, he asks a question that edges out John Cale's gushing over Snoop Dogg to become the strangest musician-interview moment I've ever experienced:
"Do you think Jessica Simpson really had an effect on Romo?"
Eventually we talked music.
How's the back?
Andrew: It's all right. It's slowly getting a little bit limber-er, and I think getting into slightly warmer climates is helping out. We came across from Seattle through Boise and Salt Lake, man, and that was just insane.
How are you playing around your injury? Are you just singing?
I'm doing a bit of an unorthodox performance. I'm using chairs and stools and, once in a while, an ottoman, maybe, to lounge on. [laughs] But obviously, [with] the intensity of our show, I find it difficult to stay seated the whole time.
There are some people who subscribe to the fact that based on how meaningless that sort of injury is, that it's highly mental. When I was in Portland, I was talking to the Sleater-Kinney drummer, Janet Weiss, who has back problems, and she gave me this book Mind Over Back Pain or whatever. But, man, I'm not subscribing to it.
Why go on the road again so soon after the Interpol tour?
Even though we covered a lot of ground on the Interpol tour, I think we were playing to a different audience than we could be. I think, for some of our fans, paying 50 bucks to see us play for half an hour... we needed to come back and give them their own show. And it feels great for us, because it's one thing to do a nice big tour of stadiums and stuff, but it's another to play for people who seem to really love what you're doing.
Does that change the playlist?
On this tour, we're trying to strip it down to the more rock-ier elements so that we wouldn't have to be carrying everything we own that makes sound. It's interesting because we went back through our records and found songs that sort of connect in a weird way. It's fun to look back at what you've done and make a highlight.
Are you working on new material?
Not so much. We produced this last record [Liars] in a really quick amount of time with the intention that, when we tour, it would still be fresh, and that's working out... Aaron and I are doing some noodling...I've been working on a cover for a Bjork song that's going on a compilation.
Which Bjork song?
"Army of Me." The most covered song in Bjork history.
What's your idea for it?
Umm, crunk. You know, that kind of slowed-down Southern hip-hop style? That's kind of what I did. You'll see.